WHITE COUNTY, Ga. – The explosion of COVID-19 delta variant has not only caused a shortage of hospital beds at many hospitals in Georgia but a critical shortage of personnel to man ambulances in White County as well.
Public Safety Director David Murphy said the county’s Status 13 calls increased by 500 percent from August 2020 until August 2021 due to the virus. Status 13 cases are those when there are no ambulances available. “Those calls receive a fire department first responder usually and an ambulance from a neighboring county or one that is returning from the hospital that may not be in the county yet,” said Murphy.
Northeast Georgia Medical Center receives most White County patients. Murphy noted that due to the shortage of beds at NGMC, a large number of patients are being treated in the ambulance that brought them which creates a critical shortage of ambulances in White County Murphy said.
As of Monday, NGMC is providing care for 284 COVID patients, 84 percent are unvaccinated and 95 percent of those in critical condition are unvaccinated.
White County Public Safety personnel have experienced their own COVID issues. Murphy said two 911 call center staff, four firefighters and five Sheriff’s Office personnel have tested positive.
The county has an additional ambulance that is not being used due to the shortage of personnel. The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to spend $39,698 per month through November to provide a short-term solution while Murphy and his staff work on a long-term solution.